The Moon Landings: Fact or Fiction?
On the 20th July 1969, Neil Armstrong made history when he became the first man to set foot on the Moon...or so we are led to believe. But there are those who think that the Apollo 11 Moon landings were faked in a Hollywood studio. Conspiracy theorists claim that they have proof that the Moon landings are just a huge hoax. NASA experts and other scientists claim that they have proof that the conspiracy theory is just a huge hoax. So, who should we believe? What arguments are the two sides putting forward? Read on to find out...
The fluttering flag.
When the Americans arrived on the Moon they put a flag of the Stars and Stripes on it, which fluttered prettily in the breeze. Photos of the fluttering flag were taken. But hoax believers claim that a flag placed on the Moon would not flutter – could not flutter – because there is no atmosphere on the Moon and therefore no breeze. NASA astronauts explain this phenomenon by saying that as the flagpole was pushed into the Moon’s surface they twisted it to make it go in more easily and that this motion set off the movement of the flag. Flags on Earth stop fluttering when the breeze dies down but as there is no atmosphere on the Moon the flag could carry on rippling for much longer than on Earth.
The shady shadows.
Some of the shadows of astronauts and objects on the surface of the Moon do not all fall in the same direction. Conspiracy theorists allege that this is because the photographs are faked, and badly at that. Others point out that the surface of the Moon is uneven which would naturally make the shadows fall in different ways. But the problem of the shadows does not end there: conspiracy theorists claim that some of the shadows themselves have parts which are too light. Shadows on the moon should, they say, be completely black because there is no atmosphere to diffuse the light. This argument is countered not by astronauts, but by experts in photography who explain that such light areas in the shadows could have been caused by light being reflected off a bright object in the vicinity – such as a white spacesuit.
These are only two of the allegations and refutations put forward by the two sides of this debate, but there are many more. This debate has been raging for years and it looks set to continue to do so. Who knows what really happened on that historic day in July 1969?
Quick Quiz: Read the clues below and write the solutions on a piece of paper. Then take the first letter of each answer and rearrange them to find the hidden word connected with this Talking Point.
1. On the 20th July 1969, Neil __________ made history when he became the first man to set foot on the Moon.
2. Conspiracy __________ claim that they have proof that the Moon landings are just a huge hoax.
3. NASA astronauts explain this (fluttering) phenomenon by saying that as the flagpole was __________ into the Moon’s surface they twisted it.
4. As there is no atmosphere on the Moon the flag could carry on rippling for much longer than on __________.
5. Conspiracy theorists claim that some of the shadows themselves have parts which are too __________.
6. The surface of the Moon is uneven which would __________ make the shadows fall in different ways.